Tips to Explain Divorce to Children

family talk benchStatistics have shown that fifty percent of marriages will end in divorce.  If your marriage happens to be one that is irreconcilable, you will need to decide how to tell your children about the decision.  Here are some tips for divorcing parents on how to tell their children about an imminent divorce.

Divorce is never easy for the parents or the children.  But, even though parents may not have sorted their feelings out quite yet, their main concern is usually the children.  Children can tell when things have changed.  When mom and dad begin to fight more and more, they become frightened.  If that fighting has led to divorce proceedings they need to know about it.

If possible have both parents sit down with the children and explain the situation.  Differences must be put aside in order to do this.  Arguing in front of your children is not a good way to break the news.  To keep the situation calm, discuss what you will say to them beforehand.  Write it down if you have to.

Children will have questions.  You don’t have to explain all of the details to them.  Answer as best you can and be honest.  Kids know when parents are being less than truthful with them.  Most of their questions will center on themselves.  This is not being selfish; it is self-preservation.  When families split up, kids fear that they will be left out in the cold — literally.

Speak to your kids in terms that they can understand.  Younger kids won’t understand terms like “divorce”.  Tell them that mom and dad will be living in different places.  A lot of crying is bound to happen so go slow.  You may have to answer those same questions again.

Assure your children that they are not the cause of the divorce.  If the news comes after kids have been on punishment or have acted out in school, they are sure to think that the entire situation is their fault.  Divorce is a matter of parents not being able to stay together and love each other.  The decision has nothing to do with the kids.

Divorce causes kids to act out in ways that they didn’t before.  To get attention, the child may become the class clown or the class jerk.  They may disregard authority and become discipline problems.  Teachers can be informed of the home situation in the event these things do occur.

Tell your children that their feelings are normal.  They will likely feel angry, upset, depressed, and a whole host of other emotions.  Encourage them to express these emotions to you instead of at school in front of the teacher.  Discipline will still be handed down in school because of their behavior.

Divorce is rough, especially for the children.  Through your own hurt, you can help children to deal with their pain and confusion in an effort to protect their emotional well-being.  Be as gentle as you can when explaining divorce to your children. As you do this, be prepared for a mixed bag of reactions from the kids. Each child may display a wide range of emotions as they work through the changes.


  1. I am so glad that I came across this post, because my sister and her husband are considering getting a divorce and don’t know how to tell their three children. They both definitely want to be present when they explain the situation to the kids and they definitely don’t want to make them feel responsible for what is about to happen. What are some things that they should make sure not to say when telling their kids about the divorce?